Concrete slabs are placed on the Turkish-Syrian border during the construction of a wall in Reyhanli, southern Hatay province April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Cihan News Agency
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As ISIS insurgents threaten the Turkish border from Syria, Turkey is struggling to staunch the flow of foreign jihadists to the group, having not so long ago allowed free access to those who would join its neighbor's civil war.The militants, who seized an air base in northeast Syria Sunday as they surged northward, are trying to secure control of the area bordering Turkey above the city of Raqqa, their major stronghold, in a bid to further ease the passage of foreign fighters and supplies, sources close to ISIS said.Some of the foreign fighters in their midst reached Syria via Turkey, entering the region on flights to Istanbul or Turkey's Mediterranean resorts, their Western passports giving them cover among the millions of tourists arriving each month in one of the world's most visited countries.From Turkey, crossing the 900 kilometer frontier into northern Syria was relatively straightforward, as the Turkish authorities maintained an open border policy in the early stages of the Syrian uprising to allow refugees out and support to the moderate Syrian opposition in.Turkey already kept a "no-entry" list of thousands of people suspected of seeking to join "extremists in Syria" based on information from foreign intelligence agencies, a Turkish official said, and barred more than 4,000 people from entering the country last year alone as a result.Only three of 13 border gates between Syria and Turkey were now fully open, the official said, with foreign nationals only allowed to pass through two of them. Close to 70 people were detained in Turkey last year on suspicion of links with extremist groups in Syria.
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